Monday, 24 February 2014

WCRD 2014: Mobile complaints surging in Singapore

Amy Ang,  Deputy Head (Legal) of Consumers Association of Singapore, reports on the growing numbers of complaints among mobile consumers as we approach the phone rights themed World Consumer Rights Day 2014.  

In 2013, mobile phone complaints rose by 52% (putting it in the top four for consumer complaints in Singapore) with a total of 1909 complaints.

Meanwhile complaints relating to phone rights with the telecommunication service providers reached 1511, an increase of 5.3% from 2012.

The most common complaints are misleading or false claims made by businesses while selling mobile handsets.

Consumer rights over defective mobile handsets have been improved by recent legislation – the ‘Lemon Law’ was passed in Singapore in 2012, which advanced the claims of the consumer against defective goods of all kinds and also goods that do not conform to contract.

Another common complaint is misrepresentation by the retailer  - such as false claims made by retailers about unlocking services, which are not needed to activate the phone.

In Singapore, for locally-approved handsets, there is usually no need for any unlocking activity to be carried out.

Often, misrepresentation takes place when the consumer is misled to pay for warranty on the mobile phone handset based on a false calculation of the warranty. 

Telecommunication complaints 

With respect to telecommunication complaints, the most common is on unsatisfactory services provided by the telcos. They could range from connectivity problems to installation of gadgets that were not done to the satisfaction of the consumer.

Many consumers were also unsure of the terms and conditions of the telco contracts which they have signed on, which could include billing items.

For example, cases of exorbitant overseas roaming charges incurred by the consumer when the consumer was overseas, are often disputed between the two parties.

There have been cases where the consumer, and/or their children, were misled into participating in some seemingly innocent pop-up games or puzzles in their mobile phone or tablet.

The fact that to respond and participate in these pop-ups was chargeable, was not made clear. This of course meant a nasty surprise in consumers’ bills.

CASE will hold a full-day carnival on World Consumer Rights Day to promote consumer awareness in Singapore on their rights in the digital age.

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